Wayne County Commission to meet amid criminal investigation into failed jail project

Project is stalled, more than $100 million over budget


DETROIT – What went wrong with the Wayne County jail project?

That's now the focus of a criminal investigation by the county's auditor general.

The project is stalled and nearly $100 million over budget. Having gone past its 60-day moratorium, construction isn't likely to resume any time soon.

Related story: Wayne County jail project under investigation

Local 4 has learned that county auditor Willy Mayo brought problems with the project to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy for her to determine whether criminal charges are warranted.

What's being investigated is how this deal came to be, how it was originally budgeted and whether high-ranking county officials knew that $300 million for the project wasn't an accurate assessment.

Mayo sees trouble in the budget calculations because the next $100 million in overages brought on by change orders has no one owning up to them.

Related story: New Wayne County jail: Bigger trouble

On Local 4's Flashpoint program, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon -- who is also running for mayor -- talked about the changes.

"Did we change orders? The answer is yes. Are they going to be embarrassing? No," Napoleon said.

Rod Meloni: Who's to blame for halted Wayne County jail construction?

In the meantime, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano's office, through Deputy Executive Jeffrey Collins, put out a statement in response to the possible criminal probe: "We welcome the auditor general taking a look at any county projects, but he has a professional responsibility to get all the facts correct before issuing a report. He has not shared his complete report or final report with us. However, the excerpts we have seen have significant factual errors."

The next step in the process is to get a look at what Ficano has in mind to fix the jail construction problem.

It won't entail a sale of the property to businessman Dan Gilbert or anyone else.

Rod Meloni: No sale, no move on new Wayne Co. Jail

The Wayne County Commission is meeting Wednesday afternoon to hash it all out.